Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nine Lives...And I Have Used Eight!

Here I sit pondering the flux of precious life from my hospital bed, having narrowly dodged the icy gripping fingers of death, escaping its evil clutches once again. Remember that "worst headache I have ever had" I was bitching about last week? Well it turned out to be the initial-onset symptom of one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Last Friday afternoon while in the shower a sudden writhing and gripping pain in my head violently sunk me to my knees. Over the course of about an hour the vice-grip slowly released its choke-hold and settled into a terrible migraine. This was a migraine that should have warranted more attention, if only I was not so pathetically weary of being sick and for some stupid reason secretly believing I could just will it away by refusing to acknowledge it. After a few more excruciating episodes accompanying a constantly aching head, I finally relented to an appointment with a P.A. at my doctors office on Tuesday morning, having calmed myself to this point by chalking all of this up to some sort of hormonal shift or another. We discussed, she examined, and we agreed I was indeed suffering from a hormonal-fluctuation induced migraine headache. She gave me a shot, ruled out any neurological origins and sent me on my way with a prescription for migraine meds.

Wednesday morning I was getting ready for work when suddenly the most intense throbbing-stabbing-excruciating pain gripped my brain, permeating each cell and every membrane in my head. I flung myself onto the bed, pressing and poking every spot on my face, head and neck for some pressure point or way to diffuse the pain, to no avail. My puppy-boy pressed himself tightly against my body in a distressed attempt to comfort me while I clawed my face, wailed in agony and thrashed around wildly, desperately seeking some relief from what was quickly becoming obvious needed IMMEDIATE attention. I composed myself enough to sob through a phone-call to my dear friend and neighbor pleading for a ride to emergency, each pulse of my heartbeat sending electric-shock-waves of torture through my brain. She took me to the ER and I was given both a CT and an unsuccessful attempt at a spinal-tap before a Neuro-radiologist discovered blood in the frontal region of my brain scan. I was immediately medic-transported to the Neuro ICU at a nearby sister hospital and given a contrast-CT, contrast-MRI, spinal-tap and catheter-angiogram during the next 2 whirlwind days. Two arteries were intentionally punctured during this process and I was mandated a total of 10 hours of strict bed paralysis, not allowed to move a single muscle while I recovered from these risky procedures. I required constant eyes-rolling-back-in-my-head narcotic shots to keep the pain at bay. My husband and mother rallied around me, all three of us completely terrified because each test was successively ruling out the more mild possibilities and words like aneurysm, stroke, brain tumors and death were whirling around my hospital room high up above my head.

Then suddenly Friday evening around 6PM my world-class neurologist emerged from the drug-induced mist before me and declared he had a diagnosis! I was shocked that he could decipher a clinical diagnosis so quickly, given my ridiculous history with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. We listened to him give us the best case scenario that could come out of this horrible situation. I had suffered from an extremely rare subset of Vasculitis called RCVS (Reversible Cerebral Vasoconsriction Syndrome), fitting the med-school text-book definition to a T. I had suffered not only 1 but 2 strokes, luckily with NO neurological damage to speak of. No drooping eyelid or drooling face, memory impairment, paralysis with a lifetime of assisted living or worse. The first word in the name alone was cause for rejoice- REVERSIBLE! He then went on to describe the treatment; steroids (yuck but I better shut-up and be grateful there is a treatment) for about 4 months and calcium-channel blockers for under a year with no residual aftermath and very little chance of re-occurrence. We had just heard the words from the doctors mouth that hundreds of faithful voices had been pleading to God's ear these last few days, and I was not dying any quicker than the rest of us! He left the room and my husband and I stared uneasily at each other with a surprised if not-quite-believable glee as I watched the stress and tension visibly roll from his back, the light sparking back in his eye. Here I had lie for two days, death repetitively and obnoxiously knocking on my door, watching the devastation this was having on my husband and mother through a Dilaudid-filtered haziness, with so many questions and so much fear. But once again the Grace of God was upon my life and it was spared, and not just my existence, but the quality of it as well. So as I sit here coming to terms with this journey, off of the IV pain drugs and out of the ICU, I started counting my lives...

1) Pancreatitis & Appendectomy- April 2000
2) Pancreatitis- August 2000
3) Pancreatitis- November 2004
4) VICD & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (HHV-6)- June 2005
5) Fibromyalgia- July 2006
6) Pancreatitis- June 2007
7) Stroke- July 23, 2010
8) Stroke- July 28, 2010

Alright so maybe 4 and 5 were not in-and-of themselves life threatening, but so quality of life devastating that I am going to count them. Besides there was at least 1 additional potential stroke last week, anyway. All of this has brought me to the conclusion THIS IS IT FOR ME, I have had it! I am marching toward a long and full life of nothing but amazing health, happiness and prosperity. I have paid my dues, worked through my karma, put up with more than my share, and I am done. Besides...I simply don't have any more to spare and its time to go bother someone else!

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